Oh, little children . . . .

And a woman who held a babe against her bosom said, “Speak to us of Children.”
And he said:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. 

— Kahlil Gibran

The shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school tore through my heart and has left me numb these past several days.  Like most people I have struggled with feelings of grief and outrage and anger – for the guns and the violence, and for an imperfect mental health system that too often fails the people who need it most.

I’ve gone back and forth about writing anything; so many have already talked about, and written eloquently on the complex issues surrounding this tragedy.  I doubted that I could add much to the conversation.  My voice is small, my words feeble.  What more can there possible be to say?

But, I can’t stop thinking about those children.  Those beautiful, beautiful children.

I adore children.  I’ve always believed that they are sweet, guileless cherubs put here, not merely to propagate the species, but to remind us that, difficult as the world may be, it is still a place filled with magic and wonder, laughter and light.  I marvel at their capacity to love, at their willingness to trust.

When I was nineteen and about to leave home for good, my seven-year-old brother pushed a note under my bedroom door.  It said – I love you – just that, but it touched me more than any words have since.  That was when I first knew that the world was a better place for all the children it contained.  I still have that strip of paper, still curled from my brother wrapping it around his finger before he slid it beneath my door.  It reminds me when I forget.

We pin our bright hope for the future on our children.  Which is why we are all so gutted by this shooting in particular.  So I add my words to the throng, and hope that words do count, and that love can heal what’s broken.

19 thoughts on “Oh, little children . . . .

  1. I have been so angry since last Friday. So disgusted and disheartened by the violence-for-sale, the profits-at-the-price-of-human-life machine that seems to drive our economy, our culture. Your words are a bit of balm.

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  2. You know, I find it odd – I’m a very empathetic person, but when something huge and tragic like this happens, I never seem to know how to feel about it. Intellectually I know how horrible it is, but there’s sort of a big blank space where the emotional reaction should be, as though it’s just too enormous to process, and would be too damaging if I did, so my mind just gently shuts that switch off.

    I didn’t know how to react to 9/11 either-in fact I couldn’t even cry about it until the first anniversary. I remember sitting in my office, which is where I was when I heard about it originally, and suddenly just breaking down and bawling for quite some time.

    Where do you even put something like this? It’s just too awful to be borne. Maybe in a year from now I’ll know, but for now I’m just in shock. I suppose we all are. God bless all those sweet little children and their families, and may the end to such sadness be right swift in coming.

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    • I don’t know, Jen. I think you just did a remarkable job of describing how you feel. I know how empathetic you are. You are also a mindful person who puts a great deal of thought into all aspects of the human condition. Above all you are kind.

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    • Here’s one of my favorite quotes: “You must put your anger in your pocket.” — Man from Mumbai speaking after the terrorist attack in 2008.

      Wise words, I think. Carry your anger some place not too close to your heart, less it overwhelm the joy that is still alive in the world.

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  3. Mary,

    I am glad you decided to chime in and voice your feelings, not only for your own sake, as women need to write and speak about these things, lest they sit and fester; but also for your reader’s. Being one who has no children of her own but spent a decade working as a nanny, raising other people’s children so mom and dad could go off to work, I was blessed the opportunity to love many times over, to see the capacity for love you speak of and the magnitude of trust children employ.
    They are treasures from Heaven, and I know the Father’s heart breaks for what has been done. I take solace only in knowing that their hearts continue to love from a glorious place, their laughter heard in the rain and seen in the stars. They are kept.

    Blessings,
    ~ Cara

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    • What lovely sentiments, Cara. Thank you for reading my post, and more importantly, for sharing your thoughts. Clearly, one need not be a parent to appreciate the gift of children to the world.

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  4. Your words help in many ways, from their beauty, but I understand. Words cannot do justice to our feelings sometimes. And this is just too awful to put words to. Thank you Mary, for making the effort to share so wonderfully.

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